Vocalist Randy Houser Performing Live Randy Houser Performing Live

KEY WEST, Florida Keys — More than 150 leading American songwriters are to perform their hit songs and preview new melodies on Key West stages during the 15th annual Better Angels Key West Songwriters Festival scheduled Wednesday, April 28, through Sunday, May 2.

The popular musical extravaganza includes more than three dozen shows in relaxed, audience friendly venues that allow music fans up-close access to music makers. Locations include island-style bars and clubs, oceanside and poolside resort stages and even the Fury catamaran as it cruises Key West waters at sunset.

Festival attendees can anticipate stellar performances from talents including the Raul Malo Band, formed by the liquid-voiced star who founded and fronted the multiplatinum Mavericks; Randy Houser, showcasing Houser’s charismatic country style; unparalleled Texas singer/songwriter Robert Earl Keen and Kim Carnes, best known for her classic “Bette Davis Eyes.”

Many writers return year after year to perform their tunes for appreciative audiences, preview new melodies and share the stories behind their songs. Among the extraordinary lineup are Jamey Johnson, award-winning performer and co-writer of such chart-toppers as George Strait’s “Give It Away”; Luke Laird, whose triumphs include writing “So Small” for Carrie Underwood; Hugh Prestwood, whose hits include Shenandoah’s “Ghost in this House” and longtime festival favorite Chuck Cannon, who co-wrote “How Do You Like Me Now?” and “American Soldier” with Toby Keith, and penned “I Love the Way You Love Me” for John Michael Montgomery.

The festival’s scheduled highlights include a free kickoff performance at 8 p.m. Wednesday, April 28, with Houser and his band on the sunset pier at Ocean Key Resort, Zero Duval St., a rocking concert under the stars with Grammy winner Malo, set for 9 p.m. Saturday, May 1, also on Ocean Key Resort’s sunset pier, and a 2 p.m. Saturday matinee with James Slater and friends at Key West’s historic San Carlos Institute, 516 Duval St.

Music lovers can enjoy the talents of seven or eight featured songwriters at each of four performances set for Thursday and Friday evenings. Shows begin both nights at 8 p.m. at the San Carlos Institute and 9 p.m. at Key West’s Tropic Cinema, 416 Eaton St.

The festival benefits the Muzak Heart & Soul Foundation dedicated to supporting and redefining music education.

For more information including ticketing and a full schedule of performances, visit www.kwswf.com. For lodging information, contact the Key West Chamber of Commerce at 1-800-LAST-KEY (800-527-8539) or visit the Keys Web site at www.fla-keys.com.